Asia Pacific Predictions for 2017

The APAC (Asia Pacific) region’s two New Years are relatively close together this year, Western New Year on January 1 and Chinese New Year on January 28. So, this seems like a good moment to ask various people from the region to tell us what they think will be the key issues in APAC in 2017.

Here are nine predictions focused on APAC, but embracing the world.

Becki Southern

Becki Southern
Marketing Manager Asia Pacific,

Automation will undeniably present opportunity to keep consumer data and understanding top of mind but, with systems replacing human decision making for marketers, Market Research will need to ensure its relevance and position within the planning process.

Focus on creating stronger partnerships with clients will allow researchers to better understand this shift and act accordingly. This will mean acting differently, developing new ways of working and new solutions that fill the gaps for the 2017 marketer.

This comes down to having the right technology to add to the consumer data brands already own. Harnessing this to complement strategy and build a deeper understanding is imperative to keep focus on agencies and suppliers outside the realm of their own data. As younger markets in APAC grow, they start at a point where technology is available. This is our chance to go in with offers from the get go, rather than trying to effect change in longer standing markets who are set in a certain process and doing things gradually. Getting this right is imperative for the region to go from strength to strength.

Gen Y and Gen X are the holy grail for researchers and marketers alike. Opening our minds to the ways in which these younger groups communicate, behave and think is where brands need Market Research to be for future generations voices to be heard and understood. This will not only shape marketing campaigns but company conduct too.

Agencies and providers will continue to buy out technology start-ups, this we know. But what 2017 is starting to see is that the start-ups will start to collaborate with each other in a more joint up way. Note last week’s announcement by VoxPopMe (video response provider) and Affectiva (facial coding platform) of their joint offer.

So in summary, a mix of human understanding with technological development and increasing needs for consumer data will shape the year ahead.

Pravin Shekar

Pravin Shekar
Kreator in Chief,

 A lot more so-called “external” firms will rip apart traditional models of working: firms which may not have a grounding in research but use technology (SaaS, Bots, IoT) to get necessary data/results.

More acquisitions of smaller innovators/firms, that will be outside the core area of research. This will be done by established and growing players, mainly to get a toe-hold in the new-gen space.

Old jargons will be busted and new ones will replace them 🙂 What’s biz-life without jargons 🙂 ?

And yes, Big Data and Analytics will continue to be bandied around, with a lot of people unaware of the difference between analysis and analytics….at least in my part of the world.

Quick, short, instant is IN.

Colleen Ryan 

Colleen Ryan
Head of Strategy,
New Zealand

1. AI, AR and VR: clients will expect insights agencies to make use of these developments before they necessarily understand what role they may play. Insights managers will be asked by their Digital managers, Transformation managers and CIOs what is happening in this space and how their insights suppliers are evolving their knowledge and utilisation of these developments.

2. Culture: there will be more emphasis on the role of culture in people’s lives and the way brands leverage culture. There will be a swing away from looking at behaviour purely in a BE context- people are not automatons. Biases are just that – biases not destiny – and we will see a bleeding of behavioural science principles within a cultural context.

3. Knowledge management: clients will be less interested in collecting new data and more interested in mining and using what they have. Insights agencies are in the best position to take on this role but those slow to the start gate will see this territory taken by others.

4. Agile marketing and design-led innovation: agile marketing will continue to develop and design-led thinking will mature to be a more useful tool. The core principles of empathy, experimentation, and the importance of emotion in customer experience (and employee experience) will prevail but the simplistic ‘empathy’ input and fast iteration without considered thought will and should disappear.

Noriko KishidaNoriko Kishida
Chief Researcher,
Marketing Solution Department,
Cross Marketing Group,
Perhaps the best way to talk about the future MR in Japan is to mention some of the interesting changes that are already happening, and which will appear with more impact this year.

• With the rapid penetration of smartphones, acquisition and maintenance of online survey panel members has become more difficult. Discussions about the future of online research, involving clients, will increase. In order to collect samples of the younger generation, it is inevitable that we will need to change the survey approach to a short, less grids questionnaire format, that is easier to answer with smartphones. There will be some research firms that will need to review current pricing.

• November 2016, LINE Research was released from LINE, the most popular messenger application in Japan (similar to WhatsApp and WeChat). This service will be provided to research firms that are members of JMRA (the Japanese research body) with plenty of young panel members and a research system dedicated to smartphones. The success of this service depends on whether it satisfies client needs. Research services in cooperation with social networks, games, and communication carriers will be increased, routes where young people are more likely to take part. Along with that, shorter and gamified surveys will be increased.

• In December 2016, Culture Convenience Club (which operates T-card, the largest points card in Japan) with Tokyo Survey Research (from the Hakuhodo group) started to offer integrated marketing services. Large-scale procurement data of T cards (e.g. 60 million people) and research data from 12 million members will be available. It is said that analysis of viewing data of TV and video recording acquired from digital TV of Toshiba REGZA of over 300 thousand households will also be available. We will see the results of service by utilizing big data and IOT of an unprecedented scale.

• Clients’ utilization of DMP (Data Management Platform) is expanding and a large-scale one-to-one service has been developed that can immediately lead to promotion linked to data obtained from individuals. I predict the barrier between research and promotion will be small. Even if there are restrictions for research companies, it will be more difficult for them to distinguish themselves, for example, promotion companies supply research data extensively, and large scale research and it’s incentives have the effect of attracting customers.

• As super aging society progresses (more than a quarter of the population are over 65 years old, more than 33 million people), the definition of seniors becomes older. There is a demand for research to target senior citizens. The demand for this type of research is in contrast to smartphone focus mentioned above.  

Peter HarrisPeter Harris
EVP & Managing Director Asia Pacific,
Vision Critical,
1. The two big themes for 2017 will be customer/employee-led innovation and understanding the customer journey – both to get more traction and will lead to more investment in customer research vs. total market research.

2. The ANZ (Australia New Zealand) market will start to realise it is not about a choice between new technology and traditional research methods, but the best results will be a blend, taking the best of both, i.e. great research design and analysis using the efficiency and reach that technology can provide

3. We will see a further push towards online qualitative approaches in ANZ and Asia, and in particular, how this can assist provide depth of understanding of the Customer Journey

4. More FMCG brands in Asia will be convinced to follow the global trend regarding a reduction in investment in brand tracking, moving research investment into more agile product development

5. Further investment in customer understanding and innovation within the Financial services sector as competition hots up across the region and new FinTech competitors enter the APAC markets.

6. VOC programmes struggling for ROI/action orientation due to too much emphasis on the platform over programme, leading to a lack of flexibility as business needs changes.

7. Finally, and I think this will be a global trend, the issue of building public trust in MR via the user experience of engaging with MR will start to get some traction.

Shobha PrasadShobha Prasad
Drshti Strategic Research Services,
1. Technology will cease to be seen as disruptive to traditional MR- the attitude will be to integrate technology into mainstream. Going forward this year, we will see the normalisation of technology use- especially mobile methods in this part of the country.

2. Clients will prefer agencies that use technology in their methods as they will be seen as cutting edge /contemporary.

3. There will be increase in use of online qual methods – online groups, chats, WhatsApp groups, diaries will have a lot of traction this year. If internet bandwidth on mobile increases, this is set to explode. If not, these will continue to increase slowly.

4. However for this year at least, the comfort level for clients will still be with traditional methods with technology as a supplementary method.

5. There will be very little talk of Big Data this year, as users will weigh the pros and cons in the experience so far and try to figure out the real value it brings.

6. This year we will see a full-blown generation of Millennials as clients. Millennial Clients demand much more action oriented, sharply articulated short research outputs that are well presented with infographics and links. Millennial Clients also like convenience, and will appreciate all efforts by agencies to help them access and use data better in their decision-making.

7. A new generation of Millennial Researchers on the agency side will come up with new ways to see and stitch data across qual and quant. What shape this will take is difficult to predict, but the result will be positive and invigorating.

Dave McCaughan
Dave McCaughan,
Storyteller at Bibliosexual &
Chief Strategy Officer at Asia
I know I am hopeless at predictions because otherwise I would be permanently sitting on a beach ignoring the MR and all other business worlds. But i can tell you a few subjects that will be “over talked” this year : VR, AI, gamification, big data, Millenials. Overtalked, because they are both an existing reality and subjects that all have 20-30 year evolutions behind us and anyone who thinks they are news should be ashamed of themselves. So predictions that they will be “important” this year, or worse still that they will ” breaking through this year” are both naive and shameful. Those are just subjects that are realities in 2017 and should be treated as existing options that continue to evolve just as television as a technology or our ability to create bad surveys continues.

What will be interesting this year will be seeing if the marketing and MR worlds do start paying more attention to issues like :

– the fastest growing language in the world, emoji , and how to create interviews, surveys, analysis only using that language ( and not confuse this with gamification ). In Asian markets like Japan, Thailand, Indonesia where emoji based social platforms like LINE are dominant it is not only “kids” who are communicating in emoji only conversations.

– yes i know i bang on about this but NOTHING is a bigger issue in Asia than the ageing population ( yes even in India, Indonesia etc where the over 60s are the fastest growing segment and already big numbers ) and the role of MR in not just helping but leading the clients to understand what this means is vital

– the fact that around 70 power cent of Asians have a mobile phone, usually with a camera, means ethnography has to continue to evolve, BUT researchers need to not only embrace this most objective of techniques, they need to educate clients that ethnography through digital devices can only be effective if matched with “live” studies in order to counter the social constraints of what can and will be shared on a screen.

Sue York
Sue York
Author Handbook of Mobile Market Research,
Three predictions . . . and a challenge

Mobile is mainstream. More research will be done using mobiles, because mobile is the right tool! There will, however, be less talk about mobile research as mobile devices become a compulsory part of the researchers toolkit and mainstream. APAC will lead the way here as it has in the past with mobile innovation.

Automation will continue to be a disruptive force and researchers will think more about what this means for the structure of the industry, particularly in the smaller markets in APAC where the impacts of large scale automation may be felt more heavily.

Training, skills and talent development will see a renewed focus as the core skill set for researchers evolves in response to NewMR style innovations and the rise of the Insight perspective. The rise of automation will also lead us to question what the core skills for researchers are and we will need to revisit the talent development pathway for researchers entering the industry.

And now for the challenge!
Although Mobile has become mainstream there is still much work to be done to develop mobile methods. Why not make 2017 the year you do more mobile research-on-research and most importantly share what you learn!

Ray Poynter
Ray Poynter
Managing Director The Future Place
• The biggest unknown is the election of President Trump in the USA, it may have no impact on the APAC region, or it may be seriously damaging.

• I expect to see Japanese research companies expand their role in Asia, both through organic growth and acquisitions.

• I think the key growth area will be in the area of messaging, for example WeChat, Line, and WhatsApp.

• I predict that the top speaker (voted on by delegates) at the ESOMAR APAC Conference in Shanghai in May, will be a woman from Asia (just like in 2016).

• I think research automation will start to really take off in APAC, particularly in Japan, Australia, and Singapore.

Fairground RideIf you found these predictions interesting, you might want to attend NewMR’s APAC Webinar, Tuesday 28 February, it is free, virtual, and we will be sharing the slides and recordings afterwards. Click here to find out more. The webinar is being held as part of the weeklong Festival of NewMR.